A war movie can be extremely cruel on its audiences. Sitting in a (hopefully)
cool theater with popcorn or coke, you sometimes feel as if the film were mocking
the security and the everydayness of your life. With extreme situations and the
wrenching choices that its characters are forced to face (remember Saving Private
Ryan?), war movies, if good enough, have the capacity to change your perspective
and to shake up your reference frames.
Savior is one such film. Raw, but powerfully so, it shocks you with its blatant, matter-of-fact cruelty, and makes you cringe at its finality. The troops in the foreign legion belong to no political philosophy, and fight for no cause. They fight anywhere in the world, and do so with honor (or so they are told).
Savior is the story of Joshua Rose (Dennis Quaid), a soldier of the foreign legion
fighting in Bosnia. The beginning of the movie sees Joshua, an American, tired
and numbed by war. During an exchange of prisoners, Joshua and Gordan, a Bosnian
soldier, escort a young and pregnant Yera (Natassja Kinski) back home from a prison
camp. When the unbelievably sadistic Gordon ill-treats the girl, something snaps
in Joshua and he kills Gordan. Yera gives birth to a baby girl that she will not
touch, and when she gets home her father will turn her out as he deems her a disgrace.
Joshua decides to take the girl and her baby to a refugee camp. There are a few touching scenes between Quaid and the baby here - he plays mom as Yera refuses to feed or clean her child. The rest of the movie is a story of courage and fortitude, of endurance and kindness, and of how Joshua becomes Yera's friend and the child's savior.
Some war movies choose to send you the universal message ("war is not a good idea") by showing you masses of dead bodies and scores of wounded and decapitated ones, and making you love the ones that get killed. Savoir does little of that. By choosing to focus on the story of two people and a baby caught in the midst of heart-rending violence, the director manages to suggest the entire story of war itself, and that is no mean feat.
If you are among those who feel movies should be light, feel-good and all song and dance, you shouldn't bother with Savior. It is an angry movie, shocking, distressing and rather extreme at times. But if movies to you are a way of understanding the world, of asking more questions and of putting yourself in uncomfortable places just to see how you react, Savior will be an interesting, if at times depressing, experience.
Note: The director does not bother with sugar coating, so please keep your children